We are all supposed to be shocked, shocked that Donald Trump may have paid no taxes for several years. Not shocked, mind you, because he did something illegal. Nobody, so far, is suggesting that. So it follows that we are supposed to be shocked and outraged because Trump did not pay taxes that he did not owe. Which really stretches the meaning of “sins of omission.”
So if he didn’t owe taxes, by law, in spite of making a lot of money, then that would seem to be the fault of the people who write the laws about how much you owe on the money you make. Either the people who write those laws weren’t bright enough to anticipate that people like Trump would take advantage of the rules as written or they knew what they were doing and did it for the usual political reasons. Which is to say, to satisfy the demands of people who either voted for them or gave them money.
In this case, I would go with the latter.
The tax code is a tangled web of favors and special treatments and there are lots of people who make a very good living by understanding its intricacies and manipulating them. If this is a stain on the republic’s virtue, then the people who write the tax laws are to blame and they should do something about it. But you would be unwise to hold your breath.
Among the people who could have done something about fixing the mess that is the tax code are Bill and Hillary Clinton. It doesn’t seem to have been a high priority for either of them. Not when he was President; nor when she was in the Senate.
And the people in the media who have made a big fuss over the fact that Trump was able to avoid taxes… well, hard to recall a time when stories about simplifying the tax code were leading the news. That sort of thing is just too boring until it is time to hang a tax cheat rap on Trump.
Or, for that matter, on Mitt Romney. The media blithely reprinted the charge made, during the last election, by Senator Harry Reid that Romney paid no taxes. Reid offered no proof. It was just slanderous demagoguery from a long serving hack who’d had plenty of opportunities to “fix” the tax code during a long and nasty political career during which he had made himself rich. One wonders how and suspects that it was all legal in the same dingy way that it was legal for Trump to avoid paying taxes while living the life of a big stud billionaire.
The present political class — one element of which is Congress — will never do anything to fix the tax code. For every loophole there is a constituency and at least one firm on K Street under retainer to keep it.
The best (and exceedingly forlorn) hope would be to replace the present system in its entirety. Jettison it and install a flat tax. No exemptions, deductions, carve-outs and so forth. But that is the territory where Libertarians and other such kooks live and dream of a world that will never be. Chiefly because the one that exists now provides such a comfortable way of life for those K-Streeters, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and a multitude of other members of the political class.
For the rest of us… well, pay up and think of it as the price you pay for being a fool.